German submarine U-61 (1939)

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-61.
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-61
Ordered: 21 July 1937
Builder: Deutsche Werke AG, Kiel
Laid down: 1 October 1938 as yard number 260
Launched: 15 June 1939
Commissioned: 12 August 1939
Fate: Scuttled at Wilhelmshaven, 2 May 1945
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: IIC
Type: Coastal submarine
Displacement: 291 t (286 long tons) surfaced
341 t (336 long tons) submerged
Length: 43.90 m (144 ft 0 in)
Beam: 4.08 m (13 ft 5 in)
Draft: 3.82 m (12 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: 2 × propeller shafts
2 × MWM four-stroke diesel engines, 700 shp (520 kW)
2 × Siemens-Schuckert electric motor, 410 shp (310 kW)
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) submerged
Range: 1,900 nautical miles (3,500 km; 2,200 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
35–42 nmi (65–78 km; 40–48 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 80 m (260 ft)
Complement: 3 officers, 22 men
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine:
5th U-boat Flotilla (Training)
*1st U-boat Flotilla (Front or operational boat)
22nd U-boat Flotilla (School or training Boat)
  • Oblt.z.S. Jürgen Oesten (18 August 1939–28 July 1940)
  • Wolf-Harro Stiebler
  • Willy Matke
  • Oblt.z.S. Hans Lange
  • Oblt.z.S. Horst Geider
  • Oblt.z.S. Wolfgang Ley
  • Oblt.z.S. Rudolf Schultze
  • Lt.z.S. Werner Zapf
Operations: Eleven
1st patrol:
24 October–14 November 1939
2nd patrol:
28 November–3 December 1939
3rd patrol:
7–18 December 1939
4th patrol:
15–30 January 1940
5th patrol:
12–27 February 1940
6th patrol:
29 February–1 March 1940
7th patrol:
11 April–7 May 1940
8th patrol:
6 June–1 July 1940
9th patrol:
6–25 July 1940
10th patrol:
29 August–15 September 1940
11th patrol:
24 September–10 October 1940
Victories: Five ships sunk, total 19,668 GRT; one ship of 4,434 tons damaged[3]

German submarine U-61 was a Type IIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine that served in the Second World War. She was built by Deutsche Werke AG, Kiel. Ordered on 21 June 1937, she was laid down on 1 October as yard number 260. She was launched on 15 June 1939 and commissioned on 12 August under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Jürgen Oesten.

U-61 was initially assigned to the 5th U-boat Flotilla during her training period, until 1 January 1940, when she was reassigned to the 1st flotilla for a front-line combat role. U-61 carried out eleven war patrols, sinking five ships for a total of 19,668 gross register tons (GRT) and damaging one of 4,434 tons. She then joined the 21st flotilla as a 'school' or training boat in November 1940 where she remained for the rest of the war.

She was scuttled at Wilhelmshaven in May 1945.

Service career[edit]

1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th patrols[edit]

The U-boat began her first patrol in the North Sea, keeping to the Norwegian side. She departed Kiel on 24 October 1939 and returned there on 14 November. It was uneventful.

Her second effort started in Kiel on 28 November 1939 but finished in Wilhelmshaven on 3 December.

Patrol number three was the reverse of number two - starting from Wilhelmshaven and finishing in Kiel.

Her fourth patrol continued the start/finish changing; starting in Kiel on 15 January 1940 and was terminated in Wilhelmshaven on the 30th. In between she sank the Sydfold about 120 nautical miles (220 km; 140 mi) east of John O Groats on the 22nd.

5th, 6th, 7th and 8th patrols[edit]

U-61‍ '​s fifth sortie was marked by the sinking of the Sangstad east of Kirkwall (in the Orkney Islands), on 18 February 1940. She had left Wilhelmshaven on 12 February[4] and along with five other U-boats, took part in Operation Nordmark, a reconnaissance mission for the German capital ships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Admiral Hipper (for what proved to be an unsuccessful sortie). It took place in the vicinity of the Orkney and Shetland Islands between 18 and 20 February.[2]

Her sixth patrol was uneventful, but her seventh foray included a brief stop in the Norwegian port of Bergen, before moving through the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands to the waters almost between mainland Scotland and the Western Isles. The return journey was the reverse of the outbound. At 27 days, it was also her longest patrol. She docked in Kiel on 7 May.

U-61‍ '​s eighth patrol involved moving slightly further south off the western Northern Irish coast. She returned to Bergen on 1 July 1940.

9th patrol[edit]

For her ninth patrol she departed Bergen on 6 July 1940 and sank Alwaki on the 10th. The ship was hit about 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) northeast of Cape Wrath (the northwest-most point on the Scottish mainland), by two torpedoes that failed to detonate. But they did create holes large enough to allow the water in. The vessel sank about eleven hours after being hit. The Admiralty investigation into the sinking wrongly concluded that the ship had been sabotaged.

The boat also sank Scottish Minstrel 130 nautical miles (240 km; 150 mi) northwest of the Bloody Foreland (on the Irish mainland), on the 16th.

U-61 returned to Kiel, arriving on the 25th.

10th and 11th patrols[edit]

The boat's tenth patrol involved negotiating the Faroes/Shetland gap once again before docking at Lorient in occupied France on 15 September 1940.

Her eleventh and final war patrol was in the other direction. She arrived at the port where she had commenced her war career, Kiel, on 10 October 1940.

Summary of raiding career[edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage
22 December 1939 Gryfevale  United Kingdom 4,434 Damaged (Mine)
22 January 1940 Sydfold  Norway 2,434 Sunk
18 February 1940 El Sonador  Panama 1,406 Sunk
18 February 1940 Sangstad  Norway 4,297 Sunk
10 July 1940 Alwaki  Netherlands 4,533 Sunk
16 July 1940 Scottish Minstrel  United Kingdom 6,998 Sunk


  1. ^ Gröner 1985, p. 67.
  2. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IIC boat U-61". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-61". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-61". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 31 January 2015. 


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German) IV (Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler). ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 

External links[edit]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IIC boat U-61". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 61". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 1 February 2015.